Common Energy helps bring food sustainability awareness to campus

With the wrap-up of Common Energy’s third annual Chew on This event, students at UBC were exposed to a greater focus on food sustainability than ever.

Chew on This, which ran from January 26-30, was held by Common Energy’s Food and Connections team. Events included a documentary about food waste, a lecture on the benefits of eating insects, a nettle foraging workshop and an international food night, finishing up with the UBC Farm Symposium and Community Eats at Sprouts.

The week kicked off with the documentary screening of Just Eat It, which was filmed in Vancouver. The film highlighted the amount of food that is wasted at all levels of production, following the path of food from farms to grocery stores. It explored the imbalance between the amount of food that is produced in North America, and the amount that actually gets eaten.

Yann Herrera, third year environmental science student and co-coordinator of Food and Connections, noted that although UBC has a number of initiatives to promote food sustainability, there is still a tremendous amount of food that gets wasted.

However, that doesn’t mean things aren’t improving. He added that one of the most successful results of Chew on This was being able to reach beyond the Common Energy community, as students from multiple faculties, both undergraduate and graduate, and even those from outside UBC attended the events.

“We wanted to make Chew on This a really fun event that also had an impact, in the sense that we tried to incorporate different aspects of education but also hands-on activities into one week-long event where anyone was welcome,” he said.

The growth of Common Energy over the past four years is indicative of a campus-wide engagement in environmental and sustainability issues. Chew on This is one of several events that Common Energy hosts throughout the year, and it involved collaboration with other campus sustainability groups, including the UBC Farm, Sprouts and the International Forestry Students Association.

“I think one of the greatest aspects of Chew on This was that we were able to reach out to a lot of different campus partners … to build that sense of community around food sustainability culture. People are really concerned about the way food is being used,” said Herrera.